This weekend’s round of the European Le Mans Series (ELMS), the 4 Hours of Imola, offers Cork driver Matt Griffin and his AF Corse team mates Duncan Cameron and Aaron Scott some quick redemption to get their title bid firmly back on track.
The 2013 ELMS title winner, based in Ballincollig, Cork, has great knowledge of the Italian circuit.
“Imola is a fantastic track with lots of history, it is one of my favourites. The circuit suits the Ferrari, but with over 40 cars on track, the traffic will be very demanding. I won this race in 2013 on the way to the championship and the aim is to win again. It will be important for us to get right on it from the first free practice session.”
The trio will each have a stint behind the wheel of the number 55 AF Corse entered Ferrari 458 GTE, competing in the LMGTE class.
Their debut in this year’s ELMS was blighted by a collision when another competitor crashed into their Ferrari very early in the race at Silverstone.
“Finishing fourth at Silverstone was not the perfect start to the championship but, considering the time we lost in the first hour, we did very well to come back and finish fourth in the end. Without the issue, we would have been fighting for the win so, even though finishing fourth was not what we wanted, our pace gives me confidence for the rest of the season,” said Griffin.
Due to a clash of events, Griffin and will miss out on the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series that goes ahead in Silverstone – also tomorrow.
In Imola, there will be two free practice sessions today, with qualifying tomorrow at 1.50pm. The 4 Hours race begins on Sunday at 2pm.
In addition to Griffin, Irish interest is provided by the Murphy Prototypes team that compete in the LMP3 category. Newtownabbey racer Patrick McClughan, 20, and Wicklow’s Seán Doyle, 22, will team up with Norfolk driver Garry Findlay, 26, on board the team’s Oreca 03R for the first time.
Meanwhile, former double European Rallycross Champion Derek Tohill returns to international rallycross in a 600bhp Ford Fiesta Supercar this weekend, when he competes in the opening round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship at Mettet in Belgium. The team acquired the OlsbergsMSE-built Fiesta at the end of last season and tested the car at events here and in Sweden over the winter. The car boasts a new livery that displays the team colours and range of partners that are involved in the long-term programme.
The opening Euro RX series this weekend runs in tandem with the third round of the World RX calendar. Forty-nine Supercars are set to take part across both championships, with no less than thirty in the Euro RX field. “It’s two-and-a-half years since we had our own team running in international rallycross, so it has been a challenge for us to get on the road again for this season. It will be a victory to be there on the start-line in Belgium, where the goal is to make the semi-finals and go from there,” said Tohill.
Elsewhere, Clonakilty Blackpudding, who are in the third and final year of their sponsorship of the Irish Tarmac Championship, have agreed to continue the arrangement for another season.
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